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Cyprus PIO: News Update in English, 00-03-09
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>
Thursday, 9 March 2000
Speaking at a press conference at the end of his eight day visit to the island, Mr de Soto said that the European Union Helsinki Summit in December, which gave Turkey a candidate status and confirmed that Cyprus can join the EU even if a settlement is not reached, as well as rapprochement between Greece and Turkey, "are central to the goal of achieving a Cyprus settlement".
Asked if there is a possibility of face-to-face negotiations taking place in the third round of proximity talks, he recalled that the UN Secretary General has invited the two parties to proximity talks to prepare the ground for meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement. Face-to-face talks are not the only way to conduct negotiations, he said, and underlined the importance of negotiations being meaningful when they begin so as to lead to a comprehensive settlement.
Invited to comment on whether the different positions of the two sides are an obstacle, Mr de Soto said, "the purpose of the whole effort is to surmount the distances that separate the two sides and to bring them together and find a settlement that will on all the fundamental issues allow Cyprus to come together in peace."
He stressed that the contribution of the two leaders to the process underway will be crucial in determining the success of this process. "Without such cooperation we will not succeed but I hope to be able to count on it," he added.
Referring to the third round of talks scheduled to begin in New York on May 23, Mr de Soto noted that "if things are going well and if all concerned are cooperating with the effort underway we can look toward a process that will continue to move forward in a sustained and hopefully predictable way."
Asked what he has learnt during his visit, the UN envoy said he has achieved "a much deeper, broader understanding of the situation on the island", noting that even though bitterness and differences may linger "one detects the wish to solve the problem once and for all".
From the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office (PIO) Server at http://www.pio.gov.cy/